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St Helens' Olympic pride
ST HELENS companies have added their own mix of steel and style to the London 2012 Olympics after completing a series of prestigious contracts.
The town’s involvement stretches from the majesty of the Olympic rings marking the presence of the Games at stadia, to the expansive roofs covering two of the most iconic arenas.
It will also weave through rooms where athletes will rest their minds and bodies ahead of the greatest challenge of their lives, and on to the storyboards that will map out how Friday night’s Opening Ceremony unfolds.
Local firms Vinyline, Kalzip and Ena Shaw have all successfully delivered major contracts for the Games, offering a striking example on how the Olympics has given a shot in the arm to economies outside the host city.
The involvement of Shaws, the family-run furnishing store, is perhaps most widely known, with the Star having detailed how Lea Green-based machinists had been tasked with creating thousands of curtains for rooms at athletes’ villages in Stratford and Weymouth earlier this year.
But the roles played by Vinyline and Kalzip have been unheralded until now.
Kalzip is a Haydock-based steel company which landed its most prestigious contract to date, creating the roofs for the aquatics centre and the velodrome that are positioned within the Olympic Park.
The striking wave-form roof, inspired by the image of a swimmer breaking the water, smoothly sweeps upwards from the stadium south edge before curving gently down at the northern side.
It is 100 metres high, weighs 3,000 tonnes and is cast in steel.
The firm’s technical team played an equally pivotal role in achieving the velodrome’s design, which attempts to reflect the geometry of the cycling track.
Vinyline, meanwhile, has been creating giant Olympic emblems and graphics that have been fixed in stadia such as Manchester’s Old Trafford, Newcastle’s St James’ Park and Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, where football is taking place.
The Sherdley Business park-based graphics company, whose vibrant Saints murals at Langtree Park have won widespread acclaim, have also been tasked with artwork for Weymouth, where the sailing competition takes place.
Barry Farrell, of Vinyline, said: “The contract came at the right time for us, particularly because the work at Saints was coming to an end and the way the economy has been going.
“It has been really good to be involved with. There aren’t many symbols as iconic as the Olympic rings. Sometimes we’ve been running for up to 18 hours a day.”
Richard Potter, Ena Shaw’s managing director, said: “We delivered on time and budget, meaning we’re all really proud.
“For the staff it was a lot of hard work and it was a big contract that kept us very busy – but on the back of it we’re now getting more requests for quotes than ever.
“To manage to deliver on three substantial contracts that were rewarded to St Helens firms it is a testament to all the good things going on here.”
Meanwhile, Rainhill-born author, Frank Cottrell Boyce, a screenwriter and novelist, is among a select cluster of imaginative minds, led by the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, who have spent the past two years mapping out how Friday night’s Opening Ceremony will unfold.